A word for parents.
I just discovered Gardiner Spring (1785-1873) last week. Another one of those quiet men of God that seem all but forgotten while still so very relevant to the Church today. I’m not sure how I came across his work, but he has a few items that can be read for free at GraceGems. He has a small book entitled “The Distinguishing Traits of Christian Character” that, what little I’ve read so far, should probably be read by anybody who professes Christ today (along with First John) to examine themselves and be sure they are in the faith.
This little clip comes from a small, chapter-size writing simply titled “Christian Parenting“. It is a little too large to post in its entirety here, but I would strongly urge you to go and read it if you are raising kids in the world today. This part in particular stood out to me as being especially important of consideration today.
May it be an exhortation to us all, fathers and mothers alike, to faithfully and loving perform the duty that God has called us to and gracefully bestowed upon us.
Peace & Blessings,
Set an Example
“Be what you wish your child to be,” the saying goes. So much is accomplished by “the power of example“. It influences children long before instruction can inform—or authority can bind. “Rules constrain—example is alluring. Rules compel—example persuades. Rules are a dead law—example a living law.” Next to the ‘law of conscience’, example is the first law with which children are acquainted—and it often remains their strongest motive to action after all others are forgotten.
Children are imitative beings, and they quickly understand what they see and hear. The example of an affectionate and watchful parent is a powerful influence! No child is too young to be the accurate observer of its parent’s conduct—and to be purified or contaminated, by that example. However unwittingly—we are constantly molding our children’s minds, habit, and character by the power of our example!
Who among us desires for our children to be unyielding, overbearing, contemptuous, unkind, unfriendly, or discourteous? But if they discover these in us—our example will govern their conduct!
Perhaps most to the point in this very affluent society—we do not want our children to be afraid of work or hardship—so why do we ourselves pursue fashion and leisure? The message quickly forms in their minds—My parents do not consider hard work, or diligence, or “redeeming the time”—to be reputable or pleasurable. They are satisfied with an easy life. With such a message, is it likely that our children will aspire to hard work, usefulness and accomplishment?
We want our children to be honorable and completely truthful. We want them to be punctual and thorough. But if they hear us extolling these virtues and know that instead we bend the truth and are disorganized and careless, will not our conduct trump our teaching?
We want our children to carefully choose their friends and conversation. But what if we are careless in this regard? What are the pleasures of modern society? Judging from the reality of the popular market today, they lie somewhere on a spectrum that stretches from popular entertainment—to gambling—to drunkenness—to pornography—to prostitution. And now, perhaps more than ever, all of these lie in some form waiting to entice our children. Must we give them an easy opening—right into our own lives and homes?
Example rules! Do we express careless doubts about the truth of God’s word and the power of the gospel? Do we not reverence the Sabbath? Do we neglect regular worship? Are we conformed to this world? Are we careless about joining ourselves to a body of believers? Is our object to be rich, great, and honored by all? If so, will we have any ground for disappointment if our example defeats our instructions?
We are always acting in the presence of our children—so let us do it in such a righteous way that they are enticed to imitate us!